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Miles Tredinnick speaks to Mohair Sweets for Eyeplug

Interview with Miles Tredinnick (aka Riff Regan) of the band ‘LONDON’.

Eyeplug: The band was many years removed from your first reunion gig so how did things feel after the first run through? Had the fellows done their homework?

Miles: Well it was Steve Voice’s idea to get the band going again. We hadn’t been in touch for 25 years when he contacted me and asked if I was up for a reunion. I was working as a comedy writer in London and he was living in Hampshire teaching guitar and doing session work. The initial idea was to reform the original band but Dave Wight the guitarist lived too far away and Jon Moss was too busy playing with Culture Club so Steve found two excellent musicians that he had heard playing in various local punk bands – guitarist Hugh O’Donnell and drummer Colin Watterston. Hugh worked (and still does) for Robert Fripp, designing his CDs and promotional material and Colin’s a printer. Both handy trades to have in the ‘London’ camp!

The first rehearsal was in a disused skittle alley next to a pub outside Andover in December 2007. Steve had a practice first with just Hugh and Colin and basically, they nailed all the old London songs from the ‘Animal Games’ LP and the ‘Summer of Love’ EP and then I joined them. It sounded good straight away and reminded me of the first rehearsal the original band had in 1976. Very tight and punchy but melodic too. There were no new songs then as Steve and I hadn’t written any. In fact, when we played our very first gig at the 12 Bar Club in Soho’s Denmark Street a few weeks later I remember saying to the audience at the start ‘Hi we’re London and the good news is NO NEW SONGS!. We knew that everyone just wanted to hear all the old faves like ‘Everyone’ís a Winner’ and ‘Friday On My Mind’ anyway so it went down well and besides how often do you go and see your favourite band and they bore you to death by playing endless new songs youíve never heard of! It was at least a year before we started playing any new material and that eventually ended up on the REBOOT album. We were amazed at the reception we got with the new band. It was just like we had never been away. Hugh and Colin fitted in really well and Steve’s bass playing was always impressive. We were lucky that we got offered some great gigs as well as a slot at the 2008 Rebellion Festival at Blackpool. London was reborn!

Eyeplug: The late great Chris Townson did the Animal Games cover. What do you remember about him and the cover design?

Miles: I never met Chris Townson personally. What happened was this: When the 12 inch ‘Summer of Love/Friday on my Mind’ EP was released the band was horrified at the artwork. We didn’t like it one bit and all trooped round to Simon Napier-Bell’s apartment in Mayfair to try and stop the record being released. Jon told him that he thought the back of the sleeve looked like a cornflakes packet! There was a huge argument, but of course, it was too late and the record was already on sale. Word of our dislike for the sleeve got back to MCA and it was more than coincidental that our next single ‘Animal Games’ came out in a plain MCA standard record sleeve (although it got picture sleeves in other countries). By this time (December 1977) the band was breaking up anyway and Jon left to join the Damned. We weren’t even sure that MCA was going to put out the ‘Animal Games’ album but they did in February 1978. Simon Napier-Bell had a sleeve designed that showed dead animals in a slaughterhouse. He was trying to do a Beatles ‘butcher’ cover type thing but the MCA bosses were appalled and told him to go away and come back with something a little less controversial.

So he got Chris Townson to design the sleeve as he knew him from when he managed ‘John’s Children’ the band that Chris was in with Marc Bolan. The front cover has this big ape smashing all the band’s equipment up (and other members of the band) and the back showed the ape signing a contract with a couple of wide boy managers. Years later Danny Morgan who was Simon Napier-Bell’s assistant and the guy who had first seen us play told me that the ape was meant to be me and the two figures signing him up were Danny and Simon! No-one really knew this at the time but the cartoons do look like Simon and Danny from that period and of course, I continued to be managed by them both after LONDON broke up so I probably did sign a new contract. If so, I think they chose the wrong member of the band. Now if they had signed up Jon Moss! Whether this cover had been originally intended for the Gorillas album you mention I do not know.

Eyeplug: I imagine that with the London Punk Singles collection out it introduced a whole new legion of fans to London and many of them wouldn’t have been around during your brief lifetime as a band. Did you notice that and were you surprised by it at all?

Miles: Yes, the CD release did introduce to a lot of new fans particularly overseas. Even after all this time, there is still a big punk movement and people still want to eat/breath/sleep it. We were surprised when Captain Oi records released the CD though as the original LONDON only ever recorded 14 songs so itís great that you can buy them all on one CD including the alternative album version of ‘Everyone’s a Winner’. So thank you, Mark Brennan, at Captain Oi!

Eyeplug: The Reboot album seems to be a natural progression from where the band left off in the late 70s. Besides the odd gig do you see the band doing a new album or playing any gigs further afield than in the UK?

Miles: Well the reaction to REBOOT took us all by surprise as generally all the reviews were pretty good and that was a new one on us! We are very proud of it but it wasnít an easy album to make. We started recording it in a small studio but the recordings got accidentally erased so we had to start all over again from scratch. We then recorded the new backing tracks on a laptop. The vocals and overdubs were added at Robert Frippís DGM studio and then finally Martin Bullimore mixed it and he did a great job. Very loud! Hugh did all the artwork and finally Dizzy Holmes released it on his punk Bin Liner label, an offshoot of his Detour Records label.

We wanted it to be as varied as possible and included a ballad STANDING ALONE on it that had trumpet from a Mellotron that Hugh spotted stuck in the corner. We later learned that it was the same Mellotron that the Beatles had used on the ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ sessions.

There are some great songs on REBOOT in my opinion. I particularly like LIKE IT NEVER HAPPENED which Steve wrote – it’s like a laundry list of things he found cool and GET OUT OF LONDON where I name-check the band. It was something Ian Hunter used to do a lot with Mott the Hoople and I always liked that as I was a big MTH fan back in the day. 77 DREAMS is another favourite as the band goes psychedelic! WHEN THE NIGHT FALLS is a good choice as the opener as its popular when we play live. Yes we want to make a new album but wheels in the LONDON camp turn very slowly (34 years between the first and second albums!) Steve and I are writing some new songs so hopefully we’ll get them out there at some stage. As far as gigs go, we’ve played some dates in Europe but weíve never played Canada, the USA or Australia. There was to be a LONDON tour of Japan a few years ago but sadly it got canceled at the last minute. We still play the occasional gig in the UK though and we’ve been invited to play the Rebellion Festival in Blackpool for the fifth time this summer. Not only is it good to perform at it’s also a chance to see some great bands on the other stages.

Eyeplug: You mention having the chance to play with a bunch of great bands at the Rebellion festivals so who in your opinion has been able to maintain their credibility and greatness and are there any current bands that interest you?

Miles: Well I particularly like the older bands, the ones from my generation. Public Image Ltd, UK Subs, 999, Chelsea, Stiff Little Fingers, Buzzcocks. One of the best shows I saw was Slaughter and the Dogs, I had never seen them before and they were amazing. The Damned are always highly entertaining of course. Also Goldblade, Bad Religion, and Ruts DC.

Eyeplug: Something that seemingly never gets talked about and that I’ve always been curious about – and I don’t know if you remember at all – is how much a typical gig might have paid back in the late 70s. Any recollections?

Miles: Now that’s an interesting question but sadly I really can’t remember. Maybe £25 for a support slot at Dingwalls? But of course, that would have been worth a lot more then than now.

Eyeplug: Could you tell me a little bit about your solo album MILESTONES and how that came about?

Miles: The MILESTONES album happened simply because I had written some songs on my own (as well as with Steve Voice and a couple of other writers), that weren’t really LONDON style songs. They were more singer/songwriter than punk but I still wanted to record them so in 2015 I got together with Steve, Colin Watterston (LONDON drummer) and Steve Pearce on keyboards. We just wanted to record the album as simply as possible so we used a small studio, Railside in Salisbury, and knocked it out in five days flat. Steve Voice produced it. It’s as different to the LONDON sound as it’s possible to get and a lot of the songs are very personal to me about trust and betrayal in relationships etc. One of the songs HARD HEARTS DON’T CRY was a new stripped-down version of a song that I originally released on Epic records as a single in the 80s. There’s another one called WHO DIDN’T WANT TO BE IN A PUNK ROCK BAND? that looks back at the 1977 scene very much tongue-in-cheek. We even covered a rare Beatles B-side I’LL GET YOU which I’d always liked. I love the sound of the album and hope others do too. It’s very minimalist and bare and that’s exactly what we were after. It’s funny that with the exception of Steve Pearce on keys, it ended up being made by all the members of LONDON (except for Hugh who was unavailable as he lived in New York). But it wouldn’t have felt right to have released it as a LONDON album so we put it out as a Riff Regan one. And of course, the name MILESTONES is a pun as my real name is Miles. We’re now thinking of doing another album as we all enjoyed working on it. It was a fast job; it was like get it made, get it out there. So in a way it had the punk ethos.

Eyeplug: Let’s get back to the current state of the punk scene, you would have been in your early 20s back in the late 70s. Do you find that the current crop of punk enthusiasts in that age bracket relate in the same way now as they did then?

Miles: Well the punk fans of today have such a huge choice, don’t they? They have all the best of oldskool punk as well as all the new stuff. I’m not as up to date as I would like to be on today’s bands but for me, the scene (especially in the UK) in 1976/7 was best. It was incredibly accessible and easy to get into. Once the punk thing got properly into gear there were gigs every night in every major town (and in central London you’d often visit three venues a night to see your favourite acts), everyone was following the same scene in the weekly music papers like the NME, Sounds and the Melody Maker. The only person playing stuff on the radio initially was John Peel but that changed as the punk bands started getting in the charts. It was exciting and it was immediate. The most surprising thing was that it didn’t last as long as everyone thought it would. Disco took over the charts and most of the punk bands that did make it worldwide were re-branded as straight rock acts – like the Police, the Pretenders, Elvis Costello, the Clash, Blondie, Boomtown Rats etc.

Eyeplug: OK I’m guessing that at this point LONDON isn’t in it for the money. Because as far as I know, the gig recession has hit the UK just as hard as everywhere else in the world. And If indeed then that is the case then what is the motivation and how would one come up with the dough to do another record?

Miles: Well pledging is one way to finance a new record and some pretty big bands have done it including: The Damned, Hugh Cornwell, and Chelsea. It is something we might do in the future but fortunately one of the advantages of the modern digital age is that recording can be done quite cheaply and of a very high quality. Lots of bands make their albums on laptops these days. But the nice thing about pledging is that your fans can have some direct input into the band and have their name in the credits etc. Be a part of the band and all that! I guess everyone carries on putting out new albums because it’s still really exciting and one of the things that got you excited about being in a band in the first place (that and playing live). It takes a bit of effort to come up with some new songs (although there’s no shortage of material in this crazy world) and get it out there but well worth it in my opinion. I love it when bands like The Pretenders, Squeeze, the Stranglers, and Elvis Costello bring out a new album but having said that LONDON are notoriously slow at releasing stuff. There was a 34 year gap between our first and second albums!! But that was because real life intervened! Everyone knows how difficult it is to make any kind of financial return with a band. You are really reliant on merchandise sales whenever you play live. And the simple fact is that there are too many bands and too few venues (in the UK anyway). And if that’s not bad enough, loads of clubs have been closing down over the last few years so it’s even more difficult to get gigs. And that’s a shame because there are lots of good bands around – old and new – and they just can’t find places to play.

Eyeplug: Been a while since we talked Miles and since then LONDON has played the Rebellion Festival in Blackpool. How did it go for you guys? Did you end up making cab fare? And any bands you got to see that impressed you?

Miles: Yes, we enjoyed playing Rebellion in Blackpool this year. It was our fifth appearance and our second in the world-famous Opera House where Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles and Bob Dylan have all trod the boards. For Steve, it was his first time playing this theatre as last year he couldn’t make it due to family problems and we had used Rick De’Ath as a stand-in on bass. It was a great show and more people seemed to be in the audience than the previous year. It was also the first time that weíve ever played on the first night of the festival but if anything it was more exciting. Didn’t catch many other acts this time as sadly we had to leave early but did see Toyah as well as the Zips (both also playing the Opera House stage). Steve and I also did an hour-long ‘London special’ interview for Danny Mac’s ‘Testifying Time Radio Show’ which was fun.

Many thanks to Miles (Riff) for taking time out to do this interview.

Please visit the band’s pages for updates, CD’s and the like.
LONDON MAIN WEB SITE

RIFF REGAN SITE

FACEBOOK PAGE

YOUTUBE

BORED TEENAGERS

 


London: Reboot (Bin Liner/Detour Records) 

Considering it was thirty-plus years since London had called it a day this release is nothing short of remarkable. Fair dues only Riff (vocals) and Steve (bass) remain from the original band, but they’ve managed to keep the feel and the sound of the late seventies line-up and recordings. Well, maybe it is a tad more ‘hi -fi’ compared to the technology of the punk era but, the bite, spite and spit (only joking) are fully intact. New boys Hugh O’Donnell (guitar, replacing Dave Wight) and Colin Watterston (drums, replacing Jon Moss) are a perfect fit. O’Donnell possesses an absolute classic ’77 era guitar tone that is equal parts Thunders/Jones with the main vein buzz-saw of countless others like Marco Pirroni, Steve Diggle et al. Most impressive. Kicking off with the Creation-esque ‘When the Night Falls’ the band then tackles – topically at least – sexuality, failed (and questionable) relations, success, failure, nostalgia and celebrity with musical smatterings of acoustic, garage/freakbeat riffage and plenty of good old three (or possibly four) chord punk. Y’know like the kind they used to make back when London first appeared on the scene. Nice. (11 tracks. 30 minutes.) BUY HERE

 


Riff Regan: Milestones (Beach Cafe Records)

This is London vocalist Riff Regan’s solo record. Riff is accompanied by the members of London (less guitarist Hugh O’Donnell) but in this instance, it is largely acoustic-based relationship rock-balladry and it sure sounds like he has had his ups and downs with the ladies. The only non-relationship cut here is ‘Who Didn’t Want to be in a Punk Rock Band?’ that is simple, nostalgic and just a little bit silly ñ in a good-natured kind of way. (12 tracks. 38 minutes.) BUY HERE

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Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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September 21, 2017 By : Category : Eyeplugs Features Front page Interviews Music Punk Tags:, , ,
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My Obsession – Anita Pallenberg

Queens, New York, June 13th, 2017, 3:30pm After experiencing not a single day of hot weather topping 80 degrees in two years, I couldn’t believe that it was heading for 98 to 100 degrees the day I was going to shoot my new music video, on the hot Brooklyn corner of McDonald Avenue and Avenue N. But I was smiling, as I usually do, at the absurdity of my dishevelled plans. I was wearing one of my cracked brown Italian leather/black velvet, skin-tight tops (yes, designed and made by me, Roxanne Fontana). No bra is allowed, or possible, being held tight in that leather. It was a special moment for me when I finally got to clip in my big, newly-acquired sterling hoop earrings, with traditional rams at the bottoms. I acquired these on ebay, from an Italian man living in Toronto. The seller was gracious enough to be bothered with my inquiries and told me the Italian town in which he purchased them, in the late 1960s. I instantly loved these earrings when I saw them on the internet. They were soooo Aries Anita Pallenberg. Martian energy. I put them in excitedly and ran to another mirror to see them. With my long hair and New York vibe, and with Anita in my mind, my immediate impression of myself was, “Oh my God, I look like Patti Paladin.” This made me chuckle instantaneously because Patti is one of Anita’s best friends. My mind moves like mercury, with much energy. I’ve been admired for it and criticized for it. Hence thoughts and ideas brewed in quick flashes: Perhaps I can show this video I am making to Patti, who would show it to Anita, because Anita would like this song. Anita would like this song, I knew: My magical Down Syndrome daughter, who is an amazing musician at 14 years old, informed me of this. Practicing her piano around my house in England, she had played my song, ‘He Does the Look’, and segued into ‘Beast of Burden’. This was a real aha moment for me, which I was not pleased with! But back to the present lightning mind! I remember that Anita loved ‘Beast of Burden’. I then put on my bracelet from Italy, that is charmed with sterling rose-gold and yellow-gold little Italian horns, another totem of mine, to her.

New York City, Winter, 1979, Hurrah “Beast of Burr-den!” she drawled to the stage. This was Anita Pallenberg. She was heckling her friend Richard Lloyd. I watched from a distance of about 10 people, trying to avoid her. Earlier that evening, across the vast dancefloor, I spotted her. She was beaming and smiling at me, so I waved to her. She did not wave back. It was ridiculous: She wore a pink sweater, blue jeans, and gold shoes. I wore a pink velvet tunic with a boat neck and a drawstring at the low waist. I remember this top of mine so clearly because it was my favourite top, which ended up getting stolen out of someone’s car down the block from Max’s Kansas City. However, this night I wore it proudly with my blue jeans and gold boots. Twins – Anita Pallenberg, and me, the teenage head of the Brian Jones Fan Club. Magic. After Anita didn’t wave back at me, she slammed into me on the dancefloor, really hard. It shook me to the core, and I am in my blood more Italian than she is (100%). Being a true New Yorker, I didn’t say anything. I gave her an unenamored look that was a toned-down expression of what I felt inside, which was, “Whoa, motherfucker.”

What a reversal situation compared to the first time I met her, just a few weeks before, also at Hurrahs. On that night, I had recognized her, standing close by. I struggled to contain my excitement as the 19 year-old president of the Brian Jones Memorial Fan Club. My fan club was run out of Long Island, recognized by the Stones office and record company. On that first occasion, as soon as she went to go to the bathroom, I had no shyness about me and blatantly followed her in. Or shall I say more like chased her in! She turned around slowly and surely to greet me/confront me, who ran after her. I said to her, “What is your name?” She said, “What is your name?” I said, “Roseann,” and she put her hand on my chest above my breast and said, “Ah, Roxanne.” I was wearing my tight super-cool black T-shirt of the first Police album. Our conversation consisted of me speaking to her through the bathroom door. I sat comfortably on the sink, as she would. She was in the booth with her friend, doing drugs of course. It was a funny conversation, because I was gushing, and she kept telling me to stop, because I was going to make her cry. This went on for a little while before she told me she would make a movie with me someday, as I said goodbye to her through the crack in the bathroom stall.

But this night, on this second chance meeting, at the Richard Lloyd concert, the band came on, after the body-slam attack, and Anita yelled things at Richard. I was planning a getaway, because I knew something was up. As soon as the band ended, Anita and her folks made a beeline – towards me. Quite a change from our first meeting. I couldn’t escape. I was caught up with in the doorway. I was wearing my Brian Jones button, which I still own. It’s a lacquered photograph from 1965, which is about 3 x 3 inches. I’d been wearing it for years! So Anita’s friend said to me that Anita wanted my button, and that she’d pay me anything I want for it. After being body-slammed by her, there was no way she was going to get my fucking badge. I said, “No, it’s not for sale.” I then explained to him that I ran a fan club for Brian. He delivered this news to the smiling Anita at the bar, and after our conversation, in which he procured my phone number, he asked me again about getting the button. The next morning when I woke up, at my parents’ house, where I lived, I noticed a one-inch crack, a crackle in the lacquer of my Brian button. I was really furious with this. I felt like she did it, and that I’d never let her know that she did it, because I wouldn’t sell it to her. This reaction of mine, of course, was all based on the mythology of Anita Pallenberg, this powerful European model in charge of the Rolling Stones. Maybe it was Brian who cracked it. Maybe it was God, or some supernatural force that cracked it. But I just assumed it was her. My mother was aghast that I had spoken of having run-ins with this woman in the papers, involved with murder and the Rolling Stones. My mother was horrified because I had a collage of this woman.

When Anita’s entourage actually did telephone my house in the weeks that followed, I was amused that my father was so angry when he told me. I thought, “Oh, they’ll never call here again after getting him on the phone.” They never did. I was fine with that. A further run-in, when I was hanging out at CBGB, was equally disturbing. I was wearing my Brian oil-painting denim jacket and an antique velvet hat with a feather that hung off of it. Anita’s friend approached me in a nearly-empty CBGBs, at the bar. He asked me if I knew the number to Max’s. Of course, I did. Didn’t everybody? That was my attitude towards him as I relayed their phone number, which was just seven sevens. As I told him the number, I looked beyond him at Anita, who was staring at me in my antique velvet hat, looking terrified out of her mind as if she’d just seen a ghost.

I didn’t see Anita again in over 25 years. It just didn’t happen. I was a student of the occult, a Thelemite, for 11 of those years. These are the ones dedicated to the study of the writings of Aleister Crowley, the doomed English writer who died in the late forties. This isn’t so unusual, to be a music person who is a follower of this religion, as it were. But the difference with me was that I didn’t discover it from Led Zeppelin. I discovered it reading fanciful biographic depictions of this woman, Anita Pallenberg. I can probably be sure that Anita, of the Paraphernalia Generation, was probably nowhere near as dedicated and serious about this stuff as I had been. When I first encountered her back then at Hurrahs, five years after my teenage obsession with her, I had just been given my first Tarot deck, the Book of Thoth and I wore a long gray coat made of goat. I guess she recognized all of these things.

Many years later, having embraced magick, and then scorned and abandoned it, I saw Anita again. But during all of these years, I was under her mythical spell. And others claim to be. Most usually in a sense to do only with something seemingly superficial: visual style, fashion. But it is important, what we look like every day, isn’t it? A few months ago I purchased, for over £200, one of the cashmere sweaters designed by Bella Freud, which feature Anita’s image on the entire front. It was available in white, gray or pale pink. Of course, I had to choose the pink, considering our ‘pink top’ history from Hurrahs, and I just knew it would be Anita’s choice. I’ve always craved her large amethyst ring that she wore for over a decade. In this past year, I learned from a book that it actually belonged to Tara Browne, best friend of Brian Jones, and I found myself a ring, that looks similar, an old ring, from the 1960s.

A literal long-lost cousin, employed by the Rolling Stones circus, allowed me a family visit backstage at a London Stones concert. I arrived and sat at a table with my cousin’s girlfriend, catching up. In a flash, Anita appeared before me, reached down and swept something violently off the table in front of me, with fire in her eyes towards me. My relative looked slightly taken aback. I mocked exaggeration, insult, and recoil. What a dance! I saw her as her former self with that mood, not this very old woman, looking years beyond her age standing before me. But I knew exactly why she did this to me. The communication was clear, “What do you think you are, looking like that, with my hair, talking to her?” As soon as my husband appeared, decades younger than myself, and with his 28-inch waist, Anita changed, and was sweet to me. She realized I was not likely after Keith. She was concerned about my daughter’s hearing during the concert. I chatted to her friend who I’d met, (still part of the circus), ages ago, at Hurrahs. He didn’t remember me, he said he didn’t remember what he had for breakfast.

It has been written that Anita never designed any clothing despite getting a degree at St Martin’s in London for fashion. This is not true. Under the brief fashion house of Zoltar the Magnificent, she did some t-shirts (of Brian Jones’ grave), and a dress, which came in a few colors. She gave one of these to my cousin’s girl, who gave it to me. I cherish it, I wear it, it is the sexiest thing ever, in Pistachio green. I understand it comes in red, and I’ve been on the hunt for it.

At another post-2005 encounter, I chatted to Anita’s friend Patti Paladin about New York stuff. Patti demeaningly grills me in the way that makes me feel as if I’m 17, which is fine with me. As I answered her, Anita was smiling and beaming at me. I used to see Patti join Johnny Thunders onstage at Max’s in the mid- to late seventies. I was underage and completely charged by these moments, which usually started at 1am while my parents slept on Long Island thinking I was sleeping at a nearby friend’s house.

The next encounter with my mysterious obsession is my favourite. It is cosmically deliberate. On this final occasion, backstage, sitting in Keith Richards’ room, two feet away from him on the sofa, when she came in. He loved her so much. He got up and sing-songed her name, as she strolled towards him, and they embraced. “A-ni-TA”. They sat together chatting, and when I looked over at them, they were both smiling at me, pointedly. Me, with my Anita haircut, raunchily duplicated, because you can’t do Anita’s hair without anti-salon raunch, darling. In 1988, New York’s Downtown Magazine placed me on their cover, declaring me “The Hippest Lady in New York.” But this moment backstage at the Rolling Stones concert, with Keith and Anita admiring me, I got my halo of cool.

The End Into the hot, sweltering traffic I embarked, in what turned out to be a trip lasting more than an hour within Brooklyn. I was going to shoot ‘He Does the Look’ right on the corner where I bought all of my singles in the late sixties. A wonderful neighbourhood, a neighbourhood where in fact Patti Palladin is from. As soon as I arrived on the set, as I was checking my Facebook messages to find out where the hell everybody was, I was getting a communication from Rolling Stones world. I was an hour and a half late for my own video shoot for ‘He Does the Look’. I feared everyone came and went. There was an overheated energy in the air, obviously literally, but in some other way. I learned no one came and went. No one was coming. They were all stuck in some weird funk, confused, in the dysfunctional morass of the transport system of the New York area. It was a hot and comatose vortex. I’ve been feeling pretty easygoing lately, so between the hot weather and the traffic, I was still feeling everything would work out fine. I can get way too high-strung, and in danger of making myself ill. Thus after much self-brainwashing, which has taken the past few years to master, I refuse to get freaked out. As I sat there, basically rolling with it, and happy that the filmmaker showed up, ex-Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor’s girlfriend was asking me if it was true, if I knew that Anita died. I was just rejecting this possibility. I couldn’t believe that I was just thinking of her with these frigging earrings, and now to hear this news, trying to get this video shoot happening properly. By the next day, however, sadness reigned in my heart.

I flew back to my home in England, and couldn’t shake it. I climbed my stairs to my bedroom, and glanced at the fanciful designed large gift box on my floor. My ridiculously expensive cashmere Anita sweater, which I haven’t worn yet, resides in this box, delivered wrapped in tissue and on a tissued pillow. My heart sank. I’ll never see her again, or talk to her, or even have the chance to have another odd scene again! I decided to buy a big plant of purple flowers. I thought I’d put it in my silver pot, for her, and the Moon. The idea of Keith Richards’ love song to her, ‘You Got the Silver’ must have been subconscious, or too obvious to matter, but how perfect. I pushed the dirt and root hard and down into the large silver ceramic. My front garden is vast and lush. I live on a big country property. As I stood up from planting the plant, I experienced a fast, sharp pain in the liver, and then all this white fluff appeared in the air. It was truly crazy. I understand Anita had liver complications to her death. I thought this stuff in the air was sheep fluff, because that’s what it looked like. There was tons of it, out of nowhere. Or maybe it was dandelion. I have lots of dandelion in the front of the house, because I eat it straight from the ground, for my liver. A close friend of mine told me this experience was Anita identifying herself, to acknowledge my attention to her, to her spirit and existence.

I can’t wait to see the footage to ‘He Does the Look,’ done on that Tuesday, 13 June. I sort of have high hopes for it, in that, as promised in our very first meeting, I was going to “make a movie” with A-NI-ta.

Roxanne Fontana

Roxanne Fontana is a singer, songwriter, recording artist, fashion designer and author of the memoir American Girl. As an indie artist, she has released several CDs and download singles. She has worked with Dino Danelli, Gordon Raphael and Jack Douglas as producers. Her antique beaded necklaces have been sold in Los Angeles, and her clothing designs have been sold in England.

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August 22, 2017 By : Category : Articles Cult Features Front page Heroes Icons Music Picks Style Tags:, ,
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American Girl by Roxanne Fontana

Image: Left: Joanne Triolo, Right: Roxanne Fontana

Excerpt from Chapter 4
 

“Ain’t this baby great, and ain’t that guy beautiful?”
 – Iggy Pop

It would be years before I’d be keen into astrology and all other sorts of divination, but nevertheless, there was something very fateful about that day in early July of 1976 when Josephine and I set out for New York City from Elmont.

I thought our mutual buzz was more about ‘going to the city’ than to see this seemingly strange woman named Patti Smith, perform. We both had no idea what to expect musically didn’t even talk about it. All we knew was what we had learned from Rock Scene magazine, that she was some sort of queen of a ‘scene’ that we never heard or read about anywhere except in that solitary publication. It almost seemed as if it was fictitious, this scene reported on with much excitement. The only reference points ever given to anything in the ‘real world’ was the occasional mention of the Stones, so of course, that was enough to get me and Jo interested, and it was enough for me to keep track of things. Plus, Rock Scene magazine was nice enough to pay attention to little me in Elmont by advertising my Brian Jones fan club. The first sign for me of this scene starting to take shape was when I saw a small mention in the daily newspaper about Central Park concerts and therein listed was the ‘Patti Smith’ show, so off we went.

It was to be the last ‘date’ in our friendship, which I hadn’t anticipated at the time; but I guess she did. She wore that open-mouthed Gemini smile I’ve learned a lot about since then ― which, although sincere, was completely detached. I don’t know whether or not Josephine really knew what she was doing, but basically, she was dropping me off and giving me away to this scene ― and a new life ― now have fun.

It was a beautiful day, and as we filed into Central Park we were excited to see that there were so many people to see Patti Smith. We wondered who they all were and if they’d seen her before; in short, how much did they know about this scene? We were pretty far back in the audience, and then the show began. It sounded like nothing I had ever heard before. It was rock ‘n’ roll alright; but not exactly like the Stones; not like the 60s or 50s, and thank the good Lord, nothing at all like the day’s current sounds. Besides rocking, it was also highly emotional ― almost ‘sick’; you know, ‘mental case’ – like. I would learn in the coming months that it was ‘art’ (or art/rat).

From the moment the band got on the stage though, I was very much fixated on the guitarist on the left side. The energy I was feeling from him was unbelievable. I couldn’t see his face and had no idea what his name was. All I knew was that he had skinny legs and a big red Stones tongue on the back of his white and green windbreaker. His hair was fair and he played the hell out of that Gibson guitar. His energy seemed as sunny as the day; nothing dark about it, In fact, it was a perfect juxtaposition to Patti and her more sullen energy, voice, and lyrics, as well as to the guitarist on the right and the keyboardist―all of whom projected a distinctly moody tone.

One had the feeling though that the majority of the musical talent as well as the ‘fuck’ energy causing everybody in the place to rock ― including the band ― was all coming from this sunny guy with the dirty blond hair. I discovered this observation was truly correct as I later learned he was the Venus ruled one (Taurus) and the others, Saturn (Capricorn). Josephine and I didn’t confer that much at all; we were under the spell of the performance ― standing the entire show with the whole audience and dancing in our spots. We’d never heard a single song before except “Land of a Thousand Dances,” which Patti broke into during one of the original numbers.

It was such a cool moment for us; we couldn’t even say or scream it ― we just were part of it. Josephine, though, was really excited about the few things I did say to her like, “Who is that guy?!?!?!? Who is he?!?!?!?!” She was laughing away and then leaned back and asked some guy to borrow his binoculars. She looked through them and said, “He’s cute ― look.” I took them from her and that was it. The music blasted around us and I could hear her laughing as I was falling in love through the binoculars. His jaw and high cheekbones were his prominent feature, and he was as pretty as a prince from another age, adorned with modern rock dress and a guitar. All I knew was that I had to meet him.

Toward the end of the concert, another guitar player named Tom Verlaine was introduced on the stage. The whole audience seemed to know who he was and gave him a big hand. His name was familiar to me from Rock Scene magazine; that make believe the world was all of a sudden becoming real for me. The band did a wildly emotional song, “Break It Up,” and even though it was the first time I had ever heard it, I felt as though something was happening to me inside my heart and making me want to cry ― even though I was as happy as a lark.
Core premonition.

Our ride home was pretty quiet. In fact, it took blocks for us to even say, “That was great, wasn’t it?” My mind was spinning around with plans about locating their album and finding out everything I could about that guitar player. But I wouldn’t have Jo to share all this with, because even though she had a great time, she apparently thought it was time to break away from our friendship and try something new―discover life on her own―with neither regrets nor our once-a-year get-togethers. Our friendship was just over―Gemini-style.

Had I not had a new obsession, this probably would have really hurt me deeply. After all, my father had constantly said ― and still, does ― that Josephine “ruined me.” Whatever that means. He was referring to our mutual and intense Rolling Stones obsession, of course.

I soon bought the Patti Smith Horses album and loved every minute of it. I got ‘possessed’ by all the spirits therein, found out that the gorgeous guy’s name was Ivan Kral and thought that I wanted to dress like Patti on the cover of the album―at least as far as my senior year back-to-school wardrobe was concerned. I didn’t think it would be too hard to pull together.

I found out in the latest Rock Scene magazine that CBGB had their own recording label, and an album out as well. I thought that it would be wonderful if I were to go there late one Saturday afternoon, buy the club’s album and check out the place when it would be empty. And I knew just who my accomplice would be.

The thing I liked about Margaret’s friend Joanne, who lived across the circle from her, was that she was quiet but upbeat and liked to laugh. And even though she wasn’t much of a conversationalist, she was lively and seemed like she was into doing new things, like going into the city ― the Village ― Avec moi, Roseann Fontana! I nervously called CBGB one day at about 4 p.m. and asked them if I could come by on Saturday around that time to buy the album, and they said “Sure!”

Joanne had learned all about my magical experience at Central Park, and she was a great audience for me. She was going to be a very good friend, I thought. Lisa Uterano was really my best friend by that time; but her dad, Mr. Record Company Big Shot, had obviously seen too much rock ‘n’ roll nightlife ― 70s style ― to let Lisa explore it; especially at fifteen years old! Lisa wasn’t as rebellious in her fashion as I was ― unfortunately for her! But I didn’t have to worry about Joanne disapproving of me, or not thinking I was cool; everything I did was A-OK with Joanne. In fact, she actually somewhat idolized me.

She was beautiful ― a beautiful Italian girl with very black straight hair parted down the middle. She looked half goth, and half hippie really, and she was into all of that. She had pretty eyes and white, white porcelain skin ― very odd for an Italian, I thought. I guessed she might be of Northern Italian descent. She was only 5 feet tall and had a decent figure, but you never were allowed to notice it. She seemed to be a bit hung up about her body and her sexuality, and so she draped herself in baggy clothes of beautiful fabrics. All of her life-force was seemingly concentrated on her face. She was a fantastic listener and would let me talk and talk and talk. She didn’t ever want to contribute much it seemed, and that was fine with me. In this sense, there were times during our friendship when I felt like a bit of a vampire ― that I was draining her completely and leaving her for dead.

She was Aquarius as Lisa was; but Lisa had an incredible personality, even though she also had that Aquarian trait of not letting on too much about themselves. Curiously, Joanne and Lisa didn’t like each other at all, even though they really didn’t know each other. I thought it was an instinctive thing. Or, maybe they were just fighting over my attentions, which was probably the case. Despite all of Lisa’s affected, regretful declinations to my city invitations, she insisted on knowing every last detail of every adventure I went on… She would beam at me ― all wide-eyed ― while smoothing down her short blonde curls.
Yet for all her feminine looks, she was oddly masculine; chain-smoking as her beloved Leon Russell records blasted from her bedroom in her family’s upscale home.

Joanne and I entered the sweet-looking record shop Bleecker Bob’s on MacDougal Street. Behind the counter stood Bob, who I noticed had home-made magazines hanging behind him on a wall. I immediately introduced myself as the President of the Brian Jones Memorial Fan Club and asked him if he’d sell my fanzines. He didn’t hesitate to say yes and got into a conversation with me about Brian. He told me that at the Monterey Pop Festival, Brian and Jimi Hendrix ingested the DMT drug by putting it under their eyelids. This revelation freaked me out a little.

I then noticed hanging behind Bob a large-size newspaper called New York Rocker, with that Blondie girl on the cover. Next to her body were the words Ivan Kral. I cut Bob’s ramblings short and asked to immediately have the newspaper. I bought it and as we walked out in the direction of CBGB, we had the paper open, looking at the pictures and skimming the article. “I knew he couldn’t be an American!” I exclaimed, as I read he was from Czechoslovakia. I didn’t even know where the fuck Czechoslovakia was. I also learned from the article that it was a communist country. All this was absolute food for my romantic head. A communist! Is that why he’s beautiful? Is that what communists look like? When Joanne and I got to CBGB, we were both nervous.

When we entered, we found it looked even more dank and dingy than in the black and white pictures in the magazine. It was, for God’s sake, just a bar of an odd shape. In the middle of the place, sitting on a bench was Hilly, the owner and a girl with an acoustic guitar. He was teaching her how to play “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” I was touched by this and tried not to interrupt. My mother had gotten me a cheap acoustic guitar when I was twelve and I even took a few lessons myself. I was a dabbler and found it enjoyable; I had even written a song.

When Hilly stopped and looked up, I stepped forward and announced that I was there to buy the album―trying to sound as cool as possible. He got up with a stretch and walked slowly back to the front with a wave of his arm. In those days he was so very nice and open; he was almost too nice to be ‘cool’, but I would eventually learn that most of the CBGB scene was like that ― very nice people and very similar to the Max’s Kansas City scene; well, almost.

“Do the groups Television and Patti Smith really hang out here besides just playing?” I asked, taking advantage of his kindness.
“Oh yeah!”
“Does Ivan Kral hang out here?”
“Yeah, they all hang out here!”
“I would love to come here but I just turned seventeen; I have to wait.”
“Oh no, we’ll let you in. Don’t worry, come on down, just don’t drink.”

In those days you could do that sort of thing. I guess. I mean, it was still illegal of course; but such policies got very strict in the post-punk era when there was a lot of rowdiness with the hard-core post-punk scene and CBGB had to start staging matinees to keep everyone happy. When we walked out of there, with me holding my CBGB album containing music of more bands that I’d never heard of at all, Joanne and I were over the moon. Life was getting good, I thought.

GRAB YOUR COPY HERE

Roxanne Fontana

Roxanne Fontana is a singer, songwriter, recording artist, fashion designer and author of the memoir American Girl. As an indie artist, she has released several CDs and download singles. She has worked with Dino Danelli, Gordon Raphael and Jack Douglas as producers. Her antique beaded necklaces have been sold in Los Angeles, and her clothing designs have been sold in England.

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August 22, 2017 By : Category : Culture Features Front page Literature Music Picks Tags:, , ,
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The Orders – Big Foot (Single)

Something is hunting me, rushing through the dark midnight woods I am stumbling, in a dream state, nothing seems to make sense anymore. I can hear the thundering sound of a Big Foot getting closer and closer. I can now see a Shack appearing to the front of me, near the cliff edge, the dense forest is now opening up and leading me to the glowing door. The stars are zipping around passing me in dazzling bright hues. The moon glares back at me knowingly. I grab the door handle, yanking it hard, I am suddenly in. I am blinded instantly by the light and the sounds of The Orders, a fine, young band from the Isle of Wight (UK) who are surrounded by candles, oil lamps, strobes and with strange daubs of occultist scribbles and ultra-violet type paint, they are making exquisite drifting chimes provided by guitar and lead warbler Kyle Chapman, punctured with happy stabs of snotty-garage punked-up psych with rumbling bass via Isaac Snow and a thundering groovy beats from Josh Edwards bashing the skins like a monster. Their latest single with mini midnight movie is ready for your aural pleasure. It is fresh yet classic, with rings of strong indie nu-pyschedelia, it has art and mystery in all the right places. These fine young chaps recently kept great company in the shape of the mighty Monochrome Set at a recent Newport show, and BBC6 have already been drooling over this current release. Things are afoot, in fact, things are gonna be Big (Foot). We predict great monster adventures ahead. This unit can fill that huge gap in the modern music mainstream with their dreamy-pop sense. Big Foot is indeed coming and availabe now to download via the links below. So get on the ‘Big Foot Trail’ and feel free to tell your crew about The Orders

DOWNLOAD VIA ITUNES

DOWNLOAD VIA SPOTIFY

 

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Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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July 13, 2017 By : Category : Dark Eyeplugs Front page Garage Modern Modernist Picks Psychedelic Tags:, ,
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Jeff Monk LP Reviews July 2017

The Inmates: The Albums 1979-1982 (Captain Oi!/Cherry Red Records)

During a recording career that is spanned in this 3CD box (1979-1982) U.K. quintet The Inmates managed to enjoy the succulent taste of chart success for a short but sweet moment. The band didn’t actually boast a unique sound for the time yet they successfully carved out a special place in the hearts of many post pub-rock music fans on both sides of the Atlantic. Considering the overt Dr. Feelgood/Rockpile vibe going on with this band they still had a lot going for them and that is what should get your money flowing in the direction of this set as soon as possible.

The box contains the first three albums in reproduction album jackets along with a 20-page booklet. Both “First Offence” and “Shot In The Dark” were commercially available at the time of their release but third album “Heatwave In Alaska” was only released in France due to a record company change at the time. As CDs the trio have only ever been available in Japan so to have them all together in one neat unit is a boon to fans, myself included. Each disc has bonus material.

“First Offence” contains their only (U.S.) hit single in the cover of The Standell’s 1966 garage rock stormer “Dirty Water”. The album was produced by the legendary Vic Maile (Motorhead, The Pirates, Dr. Feelgood, The Who) and there is no doubt that he felt the band under his guidance could become the new, younger Dr. Feelgood sans the personality and songwriting challenges that band presented. With guitarist/songwriter Peter “Gunn” Staines heavy on the pen “Mr. Unreliable” is a real standout here as it reaches back just enough to sound like old school garage rock yet has enough modern attitude to get high marks. The overt slow blues of “If Time Could Turn Backwards” finds the band in a distinctive mode yet one in which they sound completely comfortable and right. The album also features The Rumour horn section on a few tracks including the Feelgoods’ homage “Love Got Me”.

“Shot In The Dark” (1980) continues the themes of balancing Staines originals with fittingly cool cover songs. Obviously “Talk Talk” (origin. 1966 The Music Machine) was geared to replicate the success of the previous album hit “Dirty Water”. While the song is wonderfully done here it couldn’t duplicate the path cleared by the previous work and when the band was touring behind the album in the U.S. the murder of John Lennon found “SITD” pulled from playlists due to its unintentionally insensitive title. With their momentum stalled The Inmates returned to the U.K. to find that their label Radar Records had been folded into the monolithic WEA brand. There are a lot of great songs on this album including this writer’s personal favorites “Tell Me What’s Wrong”, “Why When Love Is Gone” and the memorably charming “Crime Don’t Pay”.

1982’s “Heatwave In Alaska” was only released in France likely due to the aforementioned label change leaving the band absorbed into a sea of talent that kept them at a tier below new label mates and heavy-hitters Rockpile, Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe. It’s a solid album nevertheless. The songwriting expanded to include drummer Jim Russell (“Three Little Sisters”) and bass man Ben Donnelly for the album opener “She’s Gone Rockin’”. Gunn/Staines again offers the albums’ best tracks: “Broken Hearted” a soul blues blend that singer Bill Hurley nails perfectly and the similar tough/tender “Unhappy Boy”. There are signs of the band extending their reach just a little here and new producer Stuart Colman (Shakin’ Stevens, Jeff Beck) did a good job attempting to modernize The Inmates.

In the end, as always, it comes down to being in the right place at the right time and The Inmates, sadly, missed those occasions by a hair’s breadth. For fans this box is a pleasant reminder of what could have been and a testament to the solid songwriting and sound of this band.

(Disc 1 – First Offence: 44 minutes/15 tracks, Disc Two – Shot In The Dark: 50 minutes/17 tracks, Disc Three – Heatwave In Alaska: 44 minutes/14 tracks)

GRAB A COPY HERE

Jeff Monk


V/A: Night Comes Down – 60s British Mod, R&B, Freakbeat & Swinging London Nuggets (Cherry Red Recordings/RPM)

This expansive three CD collectors’ set aims to connect the dots between artists that may already be in your collection and the bands that they may have been members in the so-called “time before”. With pop music becoming hugely popular during the 1960s’ there were enormous quantities of young (and older) people working hard trying to get their songs recorded, pinning hope against hope that they could perhaps become stars in their own right. For a lot of the bands on this compilation the gold ring of wider success would be forever beyond their grasp yet when you cherry pick the best songs, as the seemingly untiring and wise John Reed has done on “NCD”, it feels as though the times were perhaps just a little unfair. The box set is so utterly extensive and wonderful that it’s rather difficult to drill any deeper than Reed and crew have done. The liner notes are detailed and include dates, places, times and players practically perfectly. Some of the names contained herein will be recognizable to even the most casual fans: Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, The Moody Blues, Chad & Jeremy, The Deviants, Spencer Davis Group, Twiggy(!) and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown all made some waves beyond the U.K. scene. On balance though “NCD” digs deep into the vaults of long forgotten independent labels like Ember and President Records while the greats and near-greats like Decca, Track, Polydor, Parlophone and Columbia are here in full force as well.

While it is difficult to pick favorites when faced with a set that contains 87 tracks repeated listenings would have you loving some of these songs instantly while others will move quickly into the grower category. Obviously, those songs that feature players that moved on to bigger and better opportunities after these releases get the highest relevance rating for deep collectors. Look for names like future-state Deep Purple dude Ritchie Blackmore (Heinz and The Wild Boys), Motorhead man Lemmy Kilmister (The Rocking Vicars), early Manfred Mann-er Mike D’Abo (A Band Of Angels), Yes guitar god Steve Howe (The In Crowd) and Mott The Hoople and Bad Co. axeman Mick Ralphs (Doc Thomas Group). Having said that anyone that has any more than a cursory interest in collecting obscure freakbeat, R’n’B and instrumental music will be happy to find the specific nuggets they need here to further their awareness and perhaps even springboard off into more exclusive vistas of musical discovery. You too could become the next collector of rare The Gnomes of Zurich, Oliver Bone, Rusty Harness, The Brothers Grimm or The Clockwork Oranges singles and elpees!

(CD One: 30 tracks – 79 minutes, CD Two: 30 tracks – 79 minutes, CD Three: 27 tracks – 79 minutes).

Each CD comes in full colour cardboard sleeve with track listings plus 36 page full colour booklet featuring detailed notes on each track.

BUY A COPY HERE

Jeff Monk

Jeff Monk

Long serving music writer and hermit from the frozen center of Canada JM spends his days creating a pleasant environment for world class ballet dancers while a looping soundtrack of loud rock and roll music boils continuously in his head. This is something that can't be fixed. At your service. Now buy him a cigar and exit.

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July 12, 2017 By : Category : Blues Eyeplugs Front page Modernist Post-punk Reviews Tags:, , , ,
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Author – Mark Baxter

We recently caught up with the charming, Jazz loving, hard grafting man-a-bout-town, Author Mark ‘Bax’ Baxter, to talk about what it takes to become an author and his latest book project with Ian Snowball! This is what he had to say…

01. How did you get started in the world of words?

Sadly it was two sad events in my personal life, both within a few months of each other in the year 2000, that gave me the biggest kick up the arse imaginable, making me realise we aren’t on this planet for too long and that tomorrow is promised to no one. So if I was ever going do the things I always planned, like write a book, score a goal at Wembley, or get into studio 2 at Abbey Road. I had better get cracking at the age of 37 and that I did at the start of 2001. I had an idea of the clothing within the game of football. Not just what the players wore off duty, but also what the fans wore, from Mod, Skin to Casuals and then weave in the story of the brands that mattered to us all!

02. Where did you see the first piece you had written in print?

That idea above became The Fashion of Football – From Best To Beckham, published in 2004. As I said, I had the idea but absolutely no idea to get it published. As a result of some business I was involved in, I met writer Paolo Hewitt, who was someone I admire for his writing in his NME days and after some persuading, PH agreed to write the book, with me researching and providing the ideas and eventually a bit of writing.

03. Was it a struggle getting your first book published?

Not with this first one, as Paolo had an agent who did us a deal for the book and that came out on Mainstream and would go on to sell something like 3,000 copies.

04. Can you remember how you felt the first time you picked up your book fresh from the printers?

Very hard to describe. I just kept looking at it. Me, a writer of an actual book? Crazy really. But of course, I was bitten by the bug!

05. How do you deal with potential rejection from Publishers?

I had a lot of practice with that my second idea! It was called The Mumper, and it looked at the life of 7 guys in a pub in South East London. One of the sad events I mentioned above was the death of my Dad aged 65, just three months after he retired. I was very close to my Dad and spent a lot of time with him as a kid watching him sing in pubs and clubs of the local area. Going onto those trips, aged 12/13, I started to meet loads of characters, so who would have fitted in very nicely in ‘Minder’ or ‘Fools And Horses’. Funny people, who were constantly up to something, but who made me laugh my head off. Anyway, I told Paolo I was going to write a novel about them all and he agreed to have a look at the writing and advise me as I went along. And this he did. I managed to somehow get to 75, 000 words and as I was writing it, I could see it as a film. The only problem was I couldn’t get a publishing deal, and it was rejected by over 60 publishers. So, I decided to self publish in 2007 and it took all my life savings to get it into book form. Barry Pease @ Pip! Pip!, who you may know, did a marvellous job on the cover art and off we went. It sold nearly 1,000 copies before the industry caught up with the book and started to take it seriously. It later got a proper book deal with Orion, who are one of the biggest publishers in the UK and the film rights were optioned and became the 2012 film ‘Outside Bet’ starring Bob Hoskins (RIP).

06. What type of writers excite you?

At the minute, I’m well into Damon Runyon and SJ Perelman. Over the years, most of Nik Cohn’s work I have liked, as well as Frank Norman and Colin MacInnes. I grew up reading lot of the music journalists such as: Danny Baker, Paul Morley, Nick Kent and Paolo, so they would be influential at the start of it all.

07. As an author how do you feel about reviews and the Industry mechanics?

Reviews are very important, but hard to attain, unless you have a heavyweight publisher behind you and they are to get in to. My experience of the industry is that it is a little bit like a closed shop. But having said that, if you have strong enough idea and you are prepared to graft, you might get somewhere, sometimes despite people instead of them helping from the start.

08. What’s a typical working day like for you?

I’ve been writing now full time since New Years Day 2008 and currently have 12 books published in one form or the other. Sadly, making a decent living from publishing books at my level is nigh on impossible, so I also write websites, blogs, PR copy, social media text etc, every day to keep the self-employment going. A typical day starts at 6am. I write up all the latest entries for the 12 to 15 Facebook and Twitter pages I work on until 9am. Then I might work on a film script ( I have recently made a few documentaries with my film business partner Lee Cogswell) or I will head into Soho for a load of meetings, and to do a bit of networking. They tend to be long old days, but usually interesting and enjoyable

09. What would be the title of your autobiography?

‘What You?!?’ – That was said to me by a former 9-5 colleague who heard I had my first book coming out and he uttered that immortal phrase. I was really taken back that he thought that I couldn’t do it. If I ever struggle on a job and I have many times, I always think of the plum who said that, then I smile and crack on and think ‘yes, me mate…’

10. What do you do aside from writing, where do you seek inspiration yourself?

Inspiration comes from people in whatever industry it might be, who have made a success of it. Be it in film, sport, music, or normal 9-5 work . Being around those people, and I’m lucky to have worked with some very big names, you can’t help to learn from the best and I continue to do that , every single day

11. What book do you wish you had written?

I’ll give you a couple – ‘The Affectionate Punch’ By Justin de Villeneuve or ‘Absolute Beginners’ by Colin MacInnes.

12. How has the internet changed what you do?

It has helped a lot with self publishing and then selling the book too, through the social media. With all these things, it has great sides and it has its terrible sides. If you use it right, it can only help

13. Do you have any advice for wannabe authors?

I do get asked a lot about helping with books, that people have had an idea to write. I always say just start writing and don’t worry about editing as you go along. Get to the end of the story and then read it back and then edit. After the fifth draft, if you still want to write the book, you will make a great job of it. Sadly, I rarely hear of anyone finishing the book, as it is a very tough process to do it right and most seem to give up

14. What projects are you planning for the future and please plug your latest book?

Really busy at the minute as we are finishing a documentary on legendary Ivy League retailer John Simons for release on DVD in Sept/Oct and we have three other films in various stages and we’re constantly juggling from one to the other. I have just had my 12th book – ‘A Hard Days Month’ co written with Ian Snowball – published through New Haven. It is mainly set in 1964 and follows two suburban 16 year old school girls as they stalk The Beatles at gigs and public appearances around the UK in the summer the album and film ‘A Hard Days Night’ came out. They are trying to get their copies of the album signed by the fabs and along the way they discover boys, drink, drugs, family death and all the stops in between. It is the final summer of their childhood and time to grow up.

*Well done to Millwall Football Club on their recent promotion!

Feedback so far has been great and you can order the book at Waterstones, Amazon or Barnes and Noble in the States among many other places: GRAB A COPY HERE. or at WATERSTONES HERE.


A Hard Day’s Month
www.barnesandnoble.com
‘A Hard Day’s Month’ by Ian Snowball and Mark Baxter follows two surburban Beatles obsessed teenage girls, ( Sandra and Cynthia) as they go on an adventure attempting to get their copies of their A Hard Day’s Night LP’s autographed by the Fabs. As they trail the band all over the UK, they slowly leave their innocent world of Fabdom behind and begin to discover a world of boys, drink, drugs, family bereavement and the ‘normal’ life which seems mapped out for them. ‘A Hard Days Month ‘ is a funny, exciting and heartwarming story with music of The Beatles as it’s the soundtrackIt is the story of one last summer to be truly themselves, before they have to grow up and leave it all behind…

admin

Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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May 25, 2017 By : Category : Culture DozenQ Eyeplugs Front page Literature Tags:, , , ,
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Is Bliss speak to Eyeplug

Is Bliss comprise of Jimmy Stuart (Guitar/Voice), Dean Edwards (Bass) and Sam Speakman (Drums) and are based in Portsmouth. Gaining critical acclaim due to their original sound, 6music airplays and incendiary live performances on the increasingly growing new psychedelic gig circuit, they are a band to look out for. After successful support slots with both Mark Gardener (Ride) & Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins), the band soon head out to do a support slot for The Jesus And Mary Chain on their current tour. Signed to Club AC30 with an imminent new E.P. recorded, Dean had a chat with Eyeplugs Dave Taylor who wanted to find out some more.

01. How did the band originate?

We started the band out of boredom I guess. Myself and Jimmy had been rehearsing songs now and then in his bedroom and when we felt we had something cool going on we decided that it would be best to look for a drummer. Sam was an old friend of Jimmy’s who had recently moved back to Portsmouth. Jimmy suggested we ask him to drum for us and from the first time we rehearsed as a 3-piece it felt right and we knew we were on to a winner with Sam.

02. How did you decide on your name?

The name ‘Is Bliss’ was a suggestion from a friend of the band who used to jam with me and Jimmy some while back before Sam joined. It seemed fitting and we stuck with it.

03. Who influences your sound?

We have always been fascinated by in our opinion, the two best eras for guitar bands, the 60s and the 90s. Both eras influence us heavily in the way we dress, think, write, play music and live. In terms of bands that made us want to start playing then we owe that to the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Jefferson Airplane, Spacemen 3, The Verve, Radiohead and The Brian Jonestown Massacre etc…

04. What are you currently listening to?

Right now, we are listening to White Fence, The Smoking Trees, The Spyrals, The Lucid Dream, Tinariwen and Dead Rabbits. Really, anything psychedelic and fuzzy is what we love!

05. How has the band evolved since it’s initial concept?

I feel we have evolved in every aspect of being a band really, We’ve learnt what common ground and also what differences we have and how to use that to create something we all are happy with. This is the case in every song, we all have to be into it 100%, otherwise it doesn’t work for us. We’ve evolved as friends too and grown closer as a unit. We know each others next move in the rehearsal room as well as on stage.

06. Your last release, the Velvet Dreams E.P. was Lauren Lavern’s Record of the Day on 6 Music and the first pressing completely sold out. Surely, you must be pleased with that?

For sure we were absolutely made up when we heard both of those! To be played on 6music is something we always wanted to achieve and so when we did this on our first attempt we felt a sense of pure excitement really, and to then go on to find out the E.P. completely sold out and went into the official charts, well that’s something I think we are still getting our heads around even now. We are incredibly proud of that and couldn’t thank everybody who bought a copy enough!  

07. You’ve personally been selected by The Jesus And Mary Chain to open for them at the O2 Bournemouth on their current tour.  Are you looking forward to playing your biggest venue to date?

Yes, of course, we are absolutely buzzing to get up onto that stage and show the crowd in Bournemouth what we are about. Let’s hope we can get them warmed up enough before the sonic destruction that follows!

08. Where else can we see you play live in the near future?

We have a large selection of dates to follow this year, Festivals in the summer and of course Liverpool Psych Fest in September. Here’s how our April 2017 is looking:

01: Bournemouth – O2 Academy
07: London – Sebright Arms 
12: Brighton – Hope & Ruin
14: Paris – Espace B
16: Bristol – Crofters Rights
22: Southsea – Castle Road, Record Store Day Event

09. You promote your own Psych Fest in Portsmouth. Tell us more.

We run a night once a year called “Southsea Psych Out”. It’s just a chance for us to bring some of our favourite unsigned psych and shoegaze bands down to Pompey to tear the roof of a sweatbox of a venue. We started it last year and the night sold out which was great! We return this year in August.

10. If you were to record a cover version, what song?

I think we’ve always tried to concentrate on our own material but if the opportunity to play a cover ever did arise we always liked the idea of toying with a dance tune and making it our own. We wouldn’t want to do the obvious you know. Set ourselves a challenge with an acid house tune maybe.

11. You’ve recently been in the studio to record your next release. When can we expect to hear it and what formats will it be released on?

Yes, we’ve just finished in the studio with Patrick Collier (Vibrators, Primal Scream, New Model Army) and we have recorded a 5 track E.P that we are really pleased with. It will be released via Club AC30 in late May on 12″ coloured vinyl and digital download.

12. If people want to find out more how can they keep in touch with the band?

We have a facebook page: facebook.com/isblissband, Our label can be found: at facebook.com/clubac30 , You can also check us out on Spotify: spotify.com

Main Photo Credit: Jessica Mailey

Dave Showplug Taylor

Dave Showplug Taylor is owner of Showplug Promotions, a man who makes things happen, loves providing great affordable quality Events, Gigs, Shows, Comedy Plugs and great all around Entertainment. Works closely alongside Eyeplug Media and lives by the Sea with his Family. Loves the MC5 and Cold Beer.

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March 23, 2017 By : Category : DozenQ Eyeplugs Front page Interviews Music Psychedelic Tags:, , , , , ,
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Jeff Monk LP Reviews March 2017

The Move

Magnetic Waves of Sound: The Best Of (Esoteric/Cherry Red Recordings)

This lavish new set documents Birmingham’s favourite freakbeat quintet The Move in a way that previous compilations have only hinted at. This CD/DVD set includes an informative 20-page booklet with a complete history of the band including photos, a double-sided poster that features examples of period adverts, more rare photos and clippings as well as a DVD offering excellent German and U.K. television program performances from the time.

Originally formed as a quasi-super group as a result of members leaving other bands to form a new unit as The Move they went on to build upon their manifold talents and deliver some credible chart action, in the U.K. at least. The original group consisted of singer/multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Roy Wood, drummer Bev Bevan, vocalist Carl Wayne, and utility players Ace Kefford (bass) and Trevor Burton (guitar/bass) and later, as members left for various reasons, included Rick Price and future Electric Light Orchestra main man Jeff Lynne. The earliest tracks here (1966-1968) arguably represent the band at their very best.

The songs are delightfully delivered creations that include top-level vocal harmonies (all members sang), energetic instrumentation and arrangements and the kind of colorfulness that speaks to the somewhat off-center creative genius of Roy Wood. Indeed “Kilroy Was Here”, “Fire Brigade”, “Night Of Fear”, “Flowers In The Rain”, “Blackberry Way”, “(Here We Go Round) The Lemon Tree” and “I Can Hear The Grass Grow” rank as some of the best psychedelic, Beatles-informed pop music ever created anywhere. Of course the band had to change their sound to try and match the times and their rather stolid and uneven attempts at period heaviness only proved they were perhaps trying a bit too hard. Nonetheless, as an introduction to this band, the set works brilliantly and is a definite must for neophytes and a worthy addition to any longer serving fans’ collection. The waves of sound created by the Move were truly magnetic.
BUY HERE!

(21 tracks CD/21 tracks DVD-Region Free)

Mark “Porkchop” Holder

Let It Slide (Alive Naturalsound Records)

When it comes to fleshy rock and roll nicknames it doesn’t get much fatter than “Porkchop”. Mark Holder (to his mum) is a veteran singer/guitarist-songwriter that has sprung from the brawling punk blues mud of Tennessee’s excellent Black Diamond Heavies and his first solo album rates as a grimy and exciting contender next to former band mate James Leg’s highly rated 2016 release “Blood On The Keys”. Holder is the kind of player that careens around the edges of his busted blues sound to the point of distinction. His quavering electric slide guitar work and forceful acoustic blues reverence both hit the proverbial mark and while there are sonic familiarities to past masters he plays outside of mere imitation. “Disappearing” riffs on a “Gimme Shelter” like arrangement while his version on murder-blues classic “Stagger Lee” runs out like a Led Zeppelin 3 outtake. “38” is a classic warning song and between having a 38 year old woman outside the bar in his car and his own 38 problems it’s a wonder that Holder survives at all. “Stranger” offers a country twang that would suit Johnny Cash’s ghost and album closer “Baby Please Don’t Go” burns rubber even further. This kind of fiery swamp boogie is a perfect tonic for whatever ails you right now. Worth a listen, with gravy on top. BUY HERE!

(9 tracks)

Jeff Monk

Long serving music writer and hermit from the frozen center of Canada JM spends his days creating a pleasant environment for world class ballet dancers while a looping soundtrack of loud rock and roll music boils continuously in his head. This is something that can't be fixed. At your service. Now buy him a cigar and exit.

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March 16, 2017 By : Category : Front page Music Tags:, , , , ,
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Rhoda Dakar Speaks to Eyeplug

Rhoda Dakar recently took time out from her growingly hectic schedule to speak to The ‘mighty’ Scenester about her current activity including her all new fab EP, ‘The Lotek Four Vol 1’ which is out now.

BUY A COPY HERE

S: So, tell us a little about the new EP.

RD: It started out from an idea about when I first took my son to the studio. Cecil and Terry Callier were recording ‘Dolphins’, Doctor Robert was the producer, up at the Church (The Eurythmics’ studio) and my son was six months old at the time, and he was humming along.

They wanted to have a parents’ evening, a concert where the music teachers and the parents actually performed, so I said why don’t we do ‘Dolphins’? One of the music teachers played piano, we didn’t have a bass player. In our first run through, in the rehearsal studio, I recorded it on my phone. It sounded amazing. You really don’t need all the fuss. If the song’s good, and it’s played well, and the arrangement’s right, you don’t need all the extra stuff. It’s a different art form, putting the extra stuff on. So that was the idea for the EP, to get back to the essence of what a song is, so you have a good song, and record it in a good studio, with the minimum of fuss. It was all recorded it in two sessions, in one day. We were lucky enough to have The Black Barn. We recorded two versions of one song (‘Fill the Emptiness’) just to show that it’s not even about style in which you record it.

The EP was recorded with my live band, and that was the real joy because we already had an understanding. I teach vocals and performance, I‘m used to working with different people. It’s about weighing people up, seeing what they’ve got to offer, and seeing how you can get the best out of them. There are some people you can work with a million times and still never get anywhere with them.

S: What first got you into music?

RD: My Dad. He was a singer; he used to sing around the house. There was always something playing. We had a gramophone, and 78’s; they had a big record collection, my parents. I had wanted to be an actress, and my first job was at the Young Vic, at the theatre wardrobe. My grandmother had been a theatrical costumier, she taught me how to sew, so I got a job in theatre wardrobe, and I was there for a couple of years, and in all that time, there was one mixed race actor came in for one play. I had been in the Youth Theatre and we’d done Shakespeare at the Old Vic, and I went to the Young Vic, which is just across the road, working professionally, and I suddenly realised I’d be playing nurses and prostitutes for the rest of my life. I just had to re-evaluate what I wanted to do. I went into the Civil Service but I was only there for about six months, and in that time, I got in a band, and we got a deal. I’d actually been performing for over ten years by the time I got into a band. It takes a long time to be a good singer, and I wasn’t when I started, I’ve had to work at it.

S: How well did you cope with fame at such an early age?

RD: I had been around bands for a long time. I went to see my first gig when I was thirteen, so I’d seen lots and lots of bands and two of my friends were in the Sex Pistols, and I spent a lot of time with them. So I saw how they coped with it, and I saw how some didn’t cope so well, and how one coped brilliantly because he was very grounded and when he wasn’t doing anything, his Dad used to make him work for him. That keeps you on it. I have to say, that Paul Cook was a massive influence on how I behaved in the music industry. His attitude to people, his level-headedness, and I really loved that, so I took after him.

S: Which artists did you like when you first got into music? Are they different to the ones you were into when you first became a musician?

RD: Some of them, I am, I mean, I can’t say I’m a big fan of The Partridge Family anymore, but that was kind of the first thing. Very quickly, I was into David Bowie, and that’s remained a constant, although I have to say he went out of favour with me, and I think it was when I saw him cutting up lyrics, and I thought, I’ve pored for hours over lyrics, and he just cut them up and put them together willy-nilly. I was a bit huffy about that, especially as when I wrote very much from the heart.

S: Which of today’s artists do you admire?

RD: There are loads of young grime artists that I like, when my son was too young to go by himself, I saw Skepta, Wretch 32 years ago, and I think someone who is going to do well is Stormzy. He’s bright enough to know that you can’t take one idea and go with it forever, you have to branch out, and he’s got a little twinkle in his eye. There’s an American band called The Interrupters, I think they’re under thirty, and they’re like a ska-punk band, which wasn’t something I was ever into, but they have this song called ‘Take Back The Power’ which really resonates with me at the moment, you know ‘What’s your plan for tomorrow, are you a leader or will you follow? Are you a fighter, or will you cower? It’s our time to take back the power.’

S: Which person has had the most significant effect on you?

RD: Musically or attitudinally? It’s got to be Bowie, I as a fan when I was 13, even before I went to see him. At the time, to be a Bowie fan was like, we were called Bowie freaks; it was so different to what was going on. Also, I’ve met so many people, with whom I’m still in touch, and they shaped my adolescence. One of them, Jill from Bromley, ended up going out with Paul Weller, she was into Siouxsie Sioux, and so we all ended up knowing Siouxsie, back in the day. Essentially, the reason I’m still hanging around with bands is all about those people connected with Bowie. People I’ve reconnected with over the years, like Hugo Burnham, who was the drummer for the Gang of Four, he was one of our group, all have ended up connected with music in some way. I wasn’t one of those people tearing my clothing when Bowie died. I thought it was a shame, very much so, because I thought he was influential in a good way and the fact that he was starting to make music again. It was just brilliant. As I was coming up the escalator at Piccadilly, somebody was singing, ‘Where are we now?’ If a busker can’t ruin it, it’s a good song.

S: (Mentions ‘Kooks’)

RD: I was there; I did it with Dr. Robert! We did an acoustic version, we were invited onto the Women’s Stage at Pride, and we sang ‘Kooks’, and my son was like 18 months old, in the audience, in his pushchair. It (Kooks) was about his son, wasn’t it? I let my son think it was about him. I remember him (Duncan ‘Zowie’ Bowie) when he was a little tiny boy in his pushchair, ‘cause I used to sit outside Bowie’s house. I was that mad about him.

S: If you could travel back in time, to any place, when and where would it be?

RD: I’ve been asked this before. The answer I should have given is to go back to Swinging 60’s London, however, the real answer is that I would have loved to go to my Dad’s Jazz Club in Piccadilly, in the 40’s, and see what that was like. My parents met there in the Second World War, I’m sure my mother shouldn’t have been there, but in those days, people just thought ‘Well I might be dead tomorrow, let me just go and see what this is about, a Jazz Club in a basement behind the Regent Palace Hotel.’ My Dad hosted the Caribbean Club there, and the house band was the Ray Ellington Quartet. There is some great photos I’ve got from there, amazing. My Dad was so charming. Oddly enough, it would have been his 120th birthday today. He was 62 when I was born. He was from another era; he was the youngest of eleven.

S: Is there anything you would like to have prevented coming into being?

RD: Gosh. Very difficult, because you want to say, ‘prevent Hiroshima, prevent Nagasaki’, but I think I’d like to have prevented HIV. A terrible, terrible thing and I really don’t know how it came about. I don’t know how selfish this would be, but maybe prevent Trump being born.

S: If you could backtrack through your career, what would you edit, if anything?

RD: I don’t think I’d really excise anything. I’d like to add more. I’m putting this thing out now (EP) and I feel like I finally know what I’m doing. If I’d done more, would that have come to me earlier?

S: If you were to meet yourself in your early twenties, what advice would you give yourself?

RD: The advice I would give myself would be either ‘get yourself a decent manager’, or ‘learn about the music business’. I have lost and have been eased out of thousands and thousands of pounds over the years, because I trusted people to do things for me – because we never had a manager for more than about six weeks, I never joined the PRS. So I missed out on money there for example. Another one; just never reading paperwork properly that was given to me. Get acquainted with the business, and be on point, as the young people say.

S: What songs or arrangements are you most proud of, and why?

RD: I would say I’m proudest of this latest EP, particularly because I was in charge of making everything happen, for the first time ever. Nobody found the studio for me; I found it. Nobody decided on the tracks; I decided on them. I made all the big decisions, I designed it, and it’s all down to me. If there’s something wrong, it’s my fault. Even the free download, it was my decision.

S: ‘The Boiler’ is such a powerful piece of work. Did you have any misgivings about it? Has it ever proved a millstone around your neck?

RD: I don’t think of it as a bit of a millstone. For me, it was a transition between me doing acting and singing. It was the only original song we had at our first gig. It was where I started to become a songwriter. I’d think of it as a millstone if people still expected me to do it. That said, I can’t do it because it’s very much a piece about someone like my younger self, I’m not twenty, I don’t think the same thoughts. It would be me faking being twenty.

S: How did the launch for the EP go?

RD: I’m pleased I’ve had a positive response, it’s very rewarding, and we’re already writing the next one!

Rhoda Dakar spoke with Scenester1964 23/2/2017

Rhoda Dakar; The Lotek Four Vol. 1 (LTK4V1CD)

 

Coming from the doyenne of the 80’s Ska revival scene, and dressed in natty hounds-tooth (the EP, not Rhoda) the five tracks on offer here are a personal labour of love.
‘Fill The Emptiness’ opens as a languorous, swaying Lover’s Rock track, with some lovely falls in the voice, and a crisp, raspy sax solo to boot.

‘Tears You Can’t Hide’s high, pumping beat and tension and release dynamic shows Rhoda’s rounder, yet ironically, more stentorian voice tone.

‘You Talking To Me?’ has the kind of late night atmospheric sax and keyboard that welcomes you in, the voice smooth, even drifting into French at opportune moments.
Rhoda lets her voice soar on ‘Dolphins’, the ‘lapping water’ piano complementing the jazzy feel in a relationship tale.

‘Fill The Emptiness (Reefa)’ reprises in a very different style, and fits its piano riff well, the slide guitar setting it off beautifully, Rhoda duetting with herself at one point.

BUY A COPY HERE

Scenester1964 7/3/2017

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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March 8, 2017 By : Category : Articles Eyeplugs Front page Interviews Jazz Modernist Pop Soul Tags:, , , ,
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Author – Talcott Levy

This entry is part 8 of 9 in the series Old Dog Books

01. How did you get started in the world of words? 

I didn’t know I could write until I went to university, as a mature student. I had an awful schooling where I spent most of the time trying to avoid getting beaten up. We weren’t encouraged to be academic but to find a trade. But I’d always loved reading. My granddad was an antiquarian book dealer in the East End. I read mostly popular fiction when I was growing up. However, when I was 13 years old I worked in a kebab shop in Ilford washing-up. There I met this amazing guy called John who knew everything about everything. He decided I would like George Orwell. I did and I read every book in a year. After that I swallowed up literature. I even read Dostoevsky at that age, although I didn’t understand it! By the time I applied for university I think I’d absorbed so much good writing that when it came to essays the tutors were struck by how well I wrote. I had no idea. I was just thinking, ‘How would Orwell say this, in his plain English’. So I guess from feedback at college I knew I could write, that gave me the confidence to try fiction.

02. Has it been a struggle getting your first book published? 

‘Weekend Dancer’ was always going to be a niche book. The themes of Jewish identity and youth sub-culture were not going to have a mainstream appeal. However, it is also a fairly standard ‘rites of passage’ tale so I did have some hopes that a literary agent might like it. First I sent drafts to the Writers Association. This was a paid for consultancy service that offered advice. It sounds like a potential rip off but it wasn’t. They were full of integrity and fantastic help for a first time writer. Nick Russell-Pavier looked at my work and was incredibly detailed and most importantly, honest. You have to be able to take criticism and be prepared to, ‘murder your darlings’ (cut what is unnecessary), as he put it. The book would never have been written without his help and I owe him an enormous thanks for making me understand what it takes to be a writer of fiction. I then sent a sample and synopsis out to a random set of agents listed in the Writers Handbook. I did get one very positive response. The agent really liked my writing and the whole premise of the book. However, he wanted me to change it in a way that I wasn’t comfortable with. I understand why, it would have potentially given it a more mainstream appeal. Perhaps stupidly I decided against re-writing and just sat on the book for a couple of years. Then I stumbled upon Old Dog Books and its owner Paul Hallam, who thankfully liked it and was willing to publish it as it was. In that sense I have been very lucky. Without Old Dog Books I am not sure there are too many other pop-pulp fiction publishers out there!

 03. Where did you see the first piece you had written in print, how did that feel? 

At the time of writing my novel hasn’t been published. However, I have written or co-written five academic books. There’s always a real thrill when you get the proofs. It was the same with ‘Weekend Dancer’. When you see your writing set out like an actual real book, it’s a great buzz. It sort of seems very personal and private until that moment. Then you realise that something you have written is going to become public and read by all these strangers. It may sound daft but when you are writing you might show bits to friends and family and so it feels as if you are just playing at being a writer. But when it’s set down professionally and you have to do the final edit it becomes an object that you realise is now out of your control. It will have multiple lives of its own. It’s an amazing thought, really.

04. What was the main reasons that you started to write seriously? 

I’d written academic books and I wanted a new challenge. I took Woody Allen’s famous advice to authors and chose something that I knew about. I am lucky enough to have a job that gives me time to write and one where you are constantly writing and expressing yourself. Lectures, seminars, essay feedback, it’s all about articulating yourself in words – oral and written. In a sense, ever since I was an undergraduate I have been engaged in writing of one kind or another, non-stop. So it wasn’t about suddenly taking writing seriously. It was always part of what I did. The difference was to fit the extra writing into my routine. Again I always have writing deadlines and marking deadlines so it wasn’t hard to set up a schedule. I think writing is a discipline. You have to be organised. You have to stick to a plan. That worked for me anyhow.

05. What’s a typical working day like when you are writing? 

I like to write in public. I spent a lot of time in the mornings in cafes around North London: sipping cappuccino, eating croissants and writing. I loved it. I liked having people around and a bit of chatter. For lunch I used to wander into central London, to Soho and Bar Italia. I have been going there since I was a teenager. I knew I could stay there working on my laptop as long as I wanted. It helped with the novel too as some of it is set around that area. I often went to those parts of London that I was writing about. While I was writing about the Elephant and Castle I went over the river to sit in a caff nearby. I sat in the parks when I was setting events there. I went all over, even to Leytonstone and Gants Hill. It’s a London novel and I wanted to capture the feel of the city so it helped being situated where I was writing about. I also didn’t try and write too much in a day. But at the same time I always wrote something. Little and often was my motto! It’s amazing how much you find you have written if you just do a few hours every day.

 06. What were your teenage experiences that helped to shape your later mindset? 

Obviously the Mod years were seminal. It is where I and my friends did our growing-up. Those years were very intense. Friendships were at the centre of our lives. They meant so much. It was in the context of the Mod scene that we learnt how to negotiate relationships. It was where we learnt that even if you like the same music and clothes people are different. It may sound obvious but as a self-centred 17 year old you just think about yourself and that if people don’t agree with you they must be wrong. It takes some time to be sensitive to other peoples’ feelings and situations. Going to clubs, starting to get exposed to girls and politics and different types of people with diverse backgrounds; Mod was a great place to learn all the stuff of negotiating difference. It wasn’t smooth or easy and I for one acted like a right Muppet a great deal of the time. But all the wrong things I did to people – letting them down, not taking their feelings seriously, talking stupid dogmatic rubbish – it was all done in a safe environment. There was the safety valve of dancing and posing about town together! We had something that bonded us so all our stupidities never lasted too long. I’ve realised that some people never go through that. But you need a testing time and a stimulating environment to find out who you are and appreciate other people’s points of view.

07. What was it like to be young and involved in Street Cultures, what were your pointers and outlook?

It was exciting. It made you feel different and a part of something special. It was also myopic and suffocating. Sometimes it was a bit dull. It was many things at different times. It all seemed so important. We were so thirsty for Mod knowledge; to learn more about the styles, the music the lifestyle – to be pure Mod. It absorbed us, it was a total passion. But it made anyone who wasn’t part of our world simply ‘squares’ and they were dismissed. It probably wasn’t great for our parents either. We set ourselves apart. We judged people on their clothes and musical tastes. We were total snobs!

08. What was that period like for you as a young man outside of the Music world?

I guess no different to anyone else. Trying to find out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. I hated work. I drifted in and out of dead-end jobs. Luckily there was lots of work around in London in the early to mid-80’s. I basically dossed around at work until I got found out and then sacked. Then I’d walk into the jobcentre and get another job and do the same again. There were, of course, recessions and lots of unemployment in the country. But London was actually going through a boom period for most of the time. It was the North and the old heavy industry areas that really suffered. I did eventually find my feet working for a children’s’ publishers, Walker Books. They had recently been started by a very enlightened guy, Sebastian Walker. He ran the place in a very humane way. Everyone worked flexi hours, there was a cook that came in to make fresh meals for the staff, there was no real management structure other than Sebastian the owner and an equally nice general manager. It was the first time I had worked with really middle-class people and it was an eye-opener. They all talked about the theatre and art and books. There was a real commitment to the work but they were mainly creative types who didn’t think in straight lines. When their kids came to help out in the summer I really liked them too. They seemed so bright and happy and they were all planning to travel. When I found out that they were at university I had no idea what that really meant. When they told me about the things you could study I decided that was what I wanted to do, go to university. I didn’t have any ‘A’ levels (or ‘O’ levels!) but I managed to enrol in an evening course that led me to college.

 09. How did the Media distort what was going on with youth culture at that time?

I don’t think it did. At least, not in the way that Stanley Cohen set out when he wrote about the moral panic over ‘mods ‘n’ rockers’ in the 60s. We were largely under-the-radar for the mainstream press. Most of the articles were written by NME, Melody Maker and other music magazines. They were mostly interested in the music and the journalists were young enough and knowing enough to get it right. When there was reporting of mods as a sub-culture it did tend to focus on the stereotype ‘mod’, all mirrored scooters and parkas. But even then it was quite sympathetic. There certainly wasn’t any outrage about mods. Britain was so full of tribal youth that by the 80s youth subculture was not really demonised. I think this changed with the 1990s club scene and when new drugs like Ecstasy appeared. Then it was the same sort of headlines and social construction that Cohen writes about. But we existed in a sort of tacit truce period between the media and youth culture. I am guessing that if you were involved in a predominantly black youth sub-culture it was probably different.

 10. What music, films and books helped you to the pathway of all things alternative? 

There is no doubt that Paul Weller and ‘The Jam’ was our biggest influence. Weller looked fantastic as a mod and we followed his lead. When he formed ‘The Style Council’ French and Italian looks became important. So too did hanging-out drinking cappuccino which was a constant theme in The Style Council lifestyle they portrayed. We used to go to watch French movies like, ‘A bout de souffle’ at the old Renoir cinema in Brunswick square. The French Lycee in Kensington and the ICA on The Mall also used to show foreign films which we watched but wouldn’t always understand. Europe represented modernism to us, forward thinking and youth. Britain seemed grey and Victorian by comparison, at least in our imaginations. We were very pretentious, without any substance! I tried to learn to speak French using Berlitz cassette tapes but didn’t get anywhere. Despite the superficiality of it all on our part it showed we were searching for something different, eager for an alternative culture and lifestyle.

11. What other books do you wish you had written? 

I based ‘Weekend Dancer’ on The Jam’s lyrics for their song ‘Absolute Beginners’, which was itself taken from Colin MacInnes’ novel of that name. I love his London trilogy. I wish I could write a similar one. ‘Weekend Dancer’ is an attempt to take that story but put in a 1980s context. The main character remains nameless like MacInnes’ early modernist. His best friend, ‘The Wizard’, is ‘Smiler’ in my book. ‘Crepe Suzzette’ is Tina. They aren’t exact fits but there are lots of references to them and other characters and incidents in, ‘Absolute Beginners’. It’s also a character driven rather than plot driven novel. This isn’t everyone’s cup-of-tea. I know there are critics and avid readers who can’t stand the London Trilogy because they are weak on plot and heavy on style. But I like what MacInnes does and wish I could think of similar themes. I may have an idea for one!

12. How has the internet changed what you do? 

Well it brought about the contact with the Word Association and Old Dog Books so that was important. It makes professional connections for authors much easier. It also makes research much less time consuming. Everything is out there. For example, when I wanted to set the book over the weekend of PW Botha’s visit to London, I found a wealth of photos’ from the protest march that day in the London Transport Museum’s photo archives which are on-line. You Tube is great as every Northern Soul record ever made seems to have been uploaded. There’s old adverts, pop shows, gigs. You can do everything from your armchair! But it is also important to engage more directly. Which is why I went to the places I wrote about, to get the visceral feel too.

13. Do you have any advice for wannabe authors? 

When I was writing ‘Weekend Dancer’, and a few times since, a lot of people who have said they too are writing a book have told me that they, ‘just write’. That somehow they hate to be shackled by a plan or a routine. That it will all just intuitively come together from their creative endeavours. This is the biggest mistake anyone can make. Writing is all about planning, as detailed as possible. It needs discipline and a schedule. And you have to be prepared to edit, edit, edit. As Nick at the Word Association taught me, even if what you have written is the best prose ever, if it doesn’t fit the story, if it doesn’t contribute to the direction of the plot, it has to go. Being a ferocious critic of your own work is very important. Trying to take the readers point of view is also crucial. With ‘Weekend Dancer’, I broke this rule here and there, which is why it’s more a niche book, but I know I am doing that. I wouldn’t do it in the future if I was aiming for a more mainstream market. I would advise that anyone writing a novel first writes a general synopsis. Then a detailed chapter plan. And finally in one sentence write down exactly what their book is about. If you can’t do this after the synopsis and the plan then you have to review them until you can.

14. What projects are you planning for the future and please feel free to plug your latest book? 

‘Weekend Dancer’ by Talcott Levy comes out just before Christmas on Old Dog Books website (see the buy now link below) & Amazon. Old Dog Books hope to have a distribution deal in place in the New Year that will take it into book shops. My next idea for a book is a second London novel but this time with a bit more of a mainstream appeal. It is called, ‘Art and the Ottoman’. It is a ‘rites of passage’ story with a difference, the main character is 118 years old and has decided to kill himself (a one sentence explanation!). There has not been a novel set around the London Turkish immigrant experience and I am going to have a go at writing one. I have studied quite a bit about the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. I want to use this for the background of the story which involves deep political rivalries and Turkish criminal gangs. I hope I can pull it off as I am not Turkish!

15. What has been the re-action so far to your first book? 

It has only just gone on sale, so I will have to wait and see. Anyone reading this who wants to ask me anything about what I have said here can contact me via Old Dog Books. Or if you do read the book and want to let me know what you think please do get in touch too.

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Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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November 29, 2016 By : Category : Culture Eyeplugs Features Front page Interviews Literature Music Tags:, ,
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